Since today was our “official” due date, I figured it would be appropriate to write our birth story as best I can remember it. Parts of it are hazy but I tried to take notes during the early stages so I could recant it accurately. Here goes-
I started prodromal labor on January 30th around 2pm. It was the first time I’d had steady, painful contractions for more than a few minutes. I had an appointment the following day and the OB confirmed I had started early labor after hooking me up to the monitor. Of course, I didn’t know that I had two more weeks of nonsense before Liam decided it was time to arrive. You can read my prodromal labor lamentations in earlier posts.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day. I woke up with contractions pretty strong that morning and started saying to myself “You are going into labor” “You are going to have your baby today” over and over again. I noticed when I said the mantras to myself the contractions would get stronger and not fade out like they had been doing the previous weeks. I tried to put the eagerness in the back of my mind as Ryan and I ran errands and attempted to stay busy during the day. Thankfully his job the past month has been pretty relaxed so he has been able to be home with me which was really nice for walking the dogs and helping me with stuff around the house. We made chicken parm that night and I kept having contractions. These were definitely different but how different? I didn’t want to sound the alarm and go to the hospital, only to be sent home. I had seen the OB the day before and I was dilated a bit more but labor hadn’t kick started or anything. At about 10pm I told Ryan we should probably head to the hospital.
Side note- some of you may be wondering why we went to the hospital since we had planned on a homebirth. A few weeks prior to me going into labor, Ryan & I made the difficult decision to switch our care to the OB team and birth at Highland Park hospital instead of at home. Most of the reasons are personal having to do with the midwife and NONE of them have to do with homebirth in an of itself. We still believe it is the best way to birth a baby and after Liam was born, found ourselves on many occasions wishing we were home. However, you need to be 100% on the same page with not only your spouse but your birthing team and bottom line: we weren’t. Fortunately I’d found the OB team who I was really comfortable with and while making the switch was hard and definitely stressful for me (I worried about interventions out of the OB team’s control) I’m really happy we did it. As I said before, the only downside the birthing in the hospital was the interruptions after Liam was born. It felt like someone was always coming in and out of the room to check on me or him or both of us. We left as soon as possible the next day and had a much better time relaxing at home.
Ok… so we arrived at the hospital around 11 and I was 3cm dilated, about 1/2 cm more than at my appointment the day before. My contractions were steady at about 8 minutes (since this is my second baby, and Aden was born early they wanted me to come in when the contractions were 7-8 min apart instead of 5). After they hooked me to the monitor, Ryan & I walked the halls for about 15 minutes until I was tired. Checked again and I was dilated to 4cm. They decided to admit me at 2am since it was clear active labor was just around the corner.
I tried to sleep but was pretty amped up with excitement and the contractions were impossible to ignore throughout the night. They slowed down around 5am and I worried that I was going to be sent home but the nurse assured me we were on our way to having a baby and they weren’t sending me anywhere. Ryan left around 6 to take the dogs to the boarding facility and I went for a walk in the halls. At 8am my water broke. Ryan showed up at 8:15. I got in the shower and was having what I would call painful period cramps. Nothing too difficult to deal with but definitely worth paying attention to. I got out of the shower and walked around the room a bit, sat on the birth ball and felt the contractions grow stronger with each minute.
I think they checked me again around 9 and I was at 5cm, my cervix had completely moved forward and things were moving along nicely. It was quite painful at this point. I used groaning and swaying with Ryan to try to and ease the pain at the height of each contraction. I remember having the urge to pee over and over and being glad there was a bathroom so close to the area where I was laboring. During the really painful points, I visualized running a marathon and how it feels to be halfway through- utterly spent and wanting to give up but then, how amazing it feels to cross the finish line. I tried to envision that and work towards the goal of crossing the finish line. Temporary pain for long term gain.
At 10am they checked me and I was at 6cm. Transition hit. Here’s where I start to lose it. I’m crying with every contraction and telling Ryan “no, no”, shaking my head. I’m sure I said “I can’t do this” a few times. I would groan when the contraction started and then be crying by the time it was over. The nursing team was in and out of the room this whole time, whispering and getting things set up to deliver. Never once did they ask me if I wanted pain medication. Never once did they bother me except when I was hyperventalting and the nurse got in my face and helped me breathe slowly. Ryan was steadfast in our birth plan- “You CAN do this. Remember why we chose this. Do it for our son. You can handle this. It will be over soon.” Those are the phrases that stick out to me a week later. He didn’t cave, despite the fact I was in obvious agony, and for that I am so, SO thankful. To be honest, Liam was born so fast by the time they would’ve gotten drugs in me, it would’ve been too late but I’m so proud of myself for not even asking for them. I wanted to, believe me. But part of me didn’t want to let Ryan down and the other part knew I was doing the best thing for our child.
I vaguely remember the nurse telling me to let her know when I got the urge to push. I have no idea what time it was but probably 10:30/10:40 and I REALLY needed to push. Dr. Wong rushed in and said “Are you ready to have your baby?” or something to that effect. I think I probably just cried.
With Ryan on one side and the nurse on the other, I pushed through three contractions. I probably could’ve gotten him out in two but I was hoping to not tear too badly and knew he needed to essentially help me push him out so I took breaks even when they were telling me to push. Someone had grabbed me an oxygen mask because I was having a hard time breathing, probably due to my asthma and heart PVC’s but I’m SO grateful it was there because I needed it a few times during the pushing stage. Ryan was right next to me, telling me how great I was doing and that he could see the head. Next thing I knew, he was out. After two weeks and two days of pre-labor and 3 hours of active labor Liam Angelo was born on 2/15 at 10:58am, weighing 9.2 lbs! and 20.5 inches. Our little bundle of joy.
They gave him to me immediately and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Ryan cut the cord and they took Liam over to the table to “pink” him up a bit. I forgot to ask what his Apgar score was but they gave him right back and I laid him on my chest, skin to skin. Dr. Wong put in a few stitches, helped me deliver my placenta and it was all over. Minutes later, I got Liam to latch. The room cleared out and it was just us.
We were able to leave the hospital the next afternoon. The boys were understandably very curious when they were introduced to their little brother but have been absolutely great with him. They get concerned when they hear him cry but don’t bark like they used to when hearing babies on tv. They come up to us when I’m nursing and lick his head and try to sit on my lap. They seem very protective of him.
So that’s it. The story of Liam’s birth. I am beyond proud of myself for doing it completely drug free including labor augmenting pitocin and any pain medication. I wish I’d been calmer during transition but I’m not ashamed at how I got through the pain. It was purely instinctual. My birth experience was SO fast and for that I am thankful because I’m not sure I could’ve taken more than a few hours of the intense pain. Bottom line: I delivered a 9 pound baby without drugs. I AM AWESOME!
I’m going to try and post weekly Liam updates/milestones as we go but no promises. I was pretty good about keeping up with the pregnancy posts but it may be a little difficult some weeks. I do want to document our journey as he grows and believe this is the best way to do it so I’m hoping I can be consistent with it. They grow so fast and I want to remember each and every step of the way. Here are some pictures from Liam’s birth day-